These deceptively simple counsels of a monk of Valaam, written to spiritual children in the 1930's and 40's, would serve as a good primer for anyone venturing on reading monuments of the spiritual life such as works by John Cassian, John Climacus, Macarius the Great, Isaac the Syrian, or Unseen Warfare
. The short letters, by turns comforting, bracing, surprising, and poignant, convey the heart of an ''old man'' of great wisdom and compassion: ''Never mind if you do not always manage to complete your whole rule: do not be a slave to the rule. Keep the rule of the publican: 'God be merciful to me, a sinner' and remember God; this takes the place of every rule.'' And there's this: ''The weather is fine; the sun is shining. It is irresistible. I shall go for a walk. I like walking alone; I love nature. Wherever I look, everything comforts me: every tree, every bush, and the little birds twittering as they fly from tree to tree and clasp the twigs with their little feet... All this is so instructive, one cannot help crying, and in everything God's providence is visible.'' 152 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
Steeped in wisdom and humility, these are letters of a true contemplative and spiritual guide, able to rejoice and trust God in the face of an increasingly materialistic world, discerning in all circumstances meaning and a dimension of eternity.